The Boston Strangler: Why Did He Matter So Much, Historically?

By Jacob Shelton

The Strangler's victims were all different

Between June 14, 1962 and January 4, 1964, women in the Boston, Massachusetts area were on edge with reports that a serial killer was stalking the streets of the northeast and strangling women with their own hosiery. On January 4, 1964, the Boston Strangler's final victim, 19-year-old Mary Anne Sullivan, was found on the roof of her apartment building.

Even though the murders of 13 women were placed on the shoulders of Albert DeSalvo following a full confession, he's only been linked by DNA to one of the victims. The police simply had to take him at his word about the rest. DeSalvo was killed in federal prison before he could go to trial for his crimes, but his story remains a chilling portrait of desire turned to madness. Before the Son of Sam and Ted Bundy, the Boston Strangler was a killer unlike any seen before in America.

Source: Getty Images

One of the major factors that lends credence to the belief that Albert DeSalvo wasn't the only Boston Strangler (more on that later) is the fact that the Strangler's victims were all so wildly different from each other. From 1962 to 1964, the 13 women placed beneath the Strangler's deadly umbrella were between the ages of 19 and 85, a range unusually wide for the targets of a single serial killer. To gain access to the homes of his victims, the Strangler often pretended to be a maintenance person, delivery man, or someone else on the scene to provide a specific service. Once he was inside their homes, the Strangler bound his victims with nylon stockings before raping and killing them. Their bodies were left lying nude on top of their beds, waiting to be discovered.